Letter from Amy: July 20, 2022
What a beautiful Sunday! Gabi led the Wild Wonder crew to marvel over volcanoes before the service. Cory ushered us into worship with old hymns, beautiful harmonies, cello and trombolele (that's a trombone-ukulele combo, quickly becoming Incarnation's signature sound!). And lots of kids and visitors kept things boisterous, both throughout the service and in the picnic afterward.
Rumors of Glory
Perhaps my favorite moment from Sunday was Eva-Elizabeth and Bruce leading us in the Prayers of the People. I loved the L'Arche prayer liturgy they used:
Leader: No matter what,
People: God is with us. [Editor's note: AMEN!!!]
There was a moment near the end when Eva-Elizabeth prayed a prayer with a bit of hesitancy (as she later shared with me), uncertain whether a priest was supposed to pray that part. Bruce sensed her hesitation and laughed, because, according to Eva-Elizabeth: "he has learned that when you make a mess...or pour the box of cereal on the floor by mistake...or maybe accidentally say the lines the priest is supposed to say, you should laugh. So we led the confession with laughter, and it was good."
And it was indeed so very good! What beautiful resonance with the sermon's focus on Sarah's laughter, where disbelief was transformed to contagious joy through the faithfulness of God. That faithfulness has redeemed and blessed us so that we can now laugh our way through confession, assured of our forgiveness and our place at the table. The sociologist Peter Berger calls laughter a “rumor of glory,” and I heard that rumor in Bruce's prayers Sunday. Did you?
A Generous Table
You may have noticed by now that if the Sunday lectionary* gives us a strange story from the Old Testament, I'm probably going to preach it. I just love those places in scripture that are thick with mystery and antiquity. On Sunday I preached from Genesis 18, the mysterious appearance of the Lord, the three visitors, under the oaks of Mamre.
There, if you recall, Abraham hurries to welcome his guests: water for footwashing, then bread and fine cakes and fresh yogurt and a tender young calf for a feast beneath the trees while Abraham stands at a distance, ready to serve.
There is a remarkable transformation of the table between this ancient story and today. At Mamre, we see God resting and feasting while Abraham stands far off, looking on. But in Matthew 8:11, Jesus says that God's table is going to be bigger than Abraham’s descendants could have imagined: “I tell you, many will come from east and west and will take their places at the table with Abraham in the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus extends the table of God — that ancient place of resting and feasting — to include those who are far off.
In Jesus, the table is flipped. It is God himself who serves and sacrifices and spreads the table. God himself is the rest and the feast. Nobody is left to watch at a distance like an unworthy servant; everyone is invited to this generous table. We get a small taste of this feast every Sunday in the Eucharist.
I've been praying a lot about how to welcome our friends and neighbors to that table, especially those who feel really far off, those who feel or have been told they aren't welcome. Do you know someone who is longing for the rest and nourishment that God provides? How can you pray for them this week? How might you extend the table so they can pull up a chair?
I'm so grateful for our church. Grateful for our wide-open welcome that makes space for volcanoes and tromboleles and kids and laughter. Grateful for each one of you, the stories you bring, the burdens you allow this community the privilege to share, the remarkable "rumors of glory" I see in each of your lives. It's a gift to be your pastor. Let me know how I can pray and support you.
In a bit of diocesan news, the bishop candidates were released on Sunday. You can read more about them here. Please pray for our next bishop, and let me know if you'd like to discuss this transition!
No matter what,
God is with us.
* The Sunday lectionary is the order of readings we follow on Sundays: an Old Testament, Psalm, New Testament epistle, and Gospel. It's designed to take us through the whole of scripture every 3 years. You can find this lectionary starting on page 716 of the Book of Common Prayer. The lectionary is a very old church tradition, and most mainline Protestant churches and the Roman Catholic church follow a very similar (often identical) lectionary to ours. I love knowing that Christians around the world and across traditions are hearing the same scriptures read and preached every Sunday!